Here is a basic fact of modern life: You’re more likely to lose your keys than a smartphone, which would be like losing a limb to a growing portion of the population. That’s one reason that smart locks–locks that will open from a smartphone–are gaining in popularity. BitLock, a smartphone-controlled Bluetooth bike lock, is bringing that trend to the cycling world, where smart locks have yet to take a foothold.
Created by electrical engineer Mehrdad Majzoobi, the BitLock is purportedly the first keyless bike lock tailored to the peer-to-peer bikesharing community, where the ability to easily grant someone else access to a bike is paramount. “I come from a hardware security background, and came to look at this problem from a security point of view first–looking at the implications of using smartphones as access control or keys,” he says. “In most peer to peer sharing, there’s the hassle of sending a physical key. I was connecting all the different dots–the security aspects, the sharing economy, the social layer of access.”
After two years of research and over a dozen fabrication classes at San Francisco’s TechShop, Majzoobi came up with the BitLock–an iPhone and Android-compatible U-lock that can be controlled with the click of a button. The Bitlock app comes with a number of other features as well: GPS bike tracking (so you never lose track of your bike and friends can find it), the ability to grant and revoke access to a bike lock, and fitness and health tracking (how many miles rode, calories burned, and CO2 emissions avoided). The lock’s lithium ion battery lasts for 10,000 operations, or approximately five years, before it needs to be replaced.
For most cyclists, a regular U-lock is just fine–and a lot cheaper than the BitLock’s $140 expected retail price. The ideal user for BitLock is someone who rents out their bike on a bikesharing service like Spinlister, which otherwise requires pick-up and drop-off coordination. Many citywide bikesharing programs have their own smart lock systems, but these aren’t available for purchase by the general public.
BitLock is available to early supporters for $79 through Kickstarter.